Ottawa Public Health (OPH) continues its efforts to protect our community from vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring all Ottawa students are fully immunized according to recommended schedules and have up-to-date immunization records. Parents and guardians who have received a letter from OPH and have not yet contacted OPH are asked to connect with OPH to avoid their child’s suspension from school.
As outlined in Ottawa Public Health’s Immunization Strategy: Update on Every Child, Every Year report in October, over the past several months, OPH has been reviewing the immunization records of 150,000 students attending elementary and high schools in Ottawa to ensure all Ottawa students are fully immunized according to recommended schedules and have up-to-date immunization records. Complete and accurate immunization records are important to protect the health of students, especially during an infectious disease outbreak, such as measles.
OPH has worked to contact parents regarding their child’s immunization records while also verifying immunization records in OPH’s database and completing immunization assessments. Despite these efforts, immunization records of many students remain incomplete. Starting in October 2015 and continuing through to January 2016, OPH has notified families with incomplete child immunization records through mailed letters.
To date, OPH has sent out approximately 35,000 letters to parents asking them to update their child’s immunization records with OPH. These letters include information about the immunization records that are missing and how parents can update their child’s record with OPH.
If information from the parent is not received after the first letter, a second letter, which includes a suspension date, will be sent to these families between December 2015 and March 2016. Children whose records remain outstanding after the two letters will be suspended from school for a period of up to 20 school days under the authority of the _ Immunization of School Pupils Act. _ School principals will suspend students on a pre-determined date for 20 school days, to be rescinded when proof of immunization is received. To date, approximately 5,000 notice-of-suspension letters have been sent to parents.
Many parents have contacted OPH by phone, by fax, by mail and online with updated immunization information for their child. The high volume in parents contacting OPH with requested immunization information has significantly increased the demand on OPH’s phone lines and staff. To be responsive to parents, OPH is temporarily redeploying staff as needed to assist with updating the immunization records in a timely way and to prevent unnecessary school suspensions.
For children who are missing immunizations, families are being referred to their family doctor and for families without a family physician, OPH is offering catch-up clinics by appointment in east-end and west-end locations. These families can call OPH at 613-580-6744 to book an appointment at one of these catch-up clinics.
Parents who receive a letter requesting immunization information can contact OPH:
* Online at [ www.parentinginOttawa.ca/Immunization ](http://www.parentinginottawa.ca/Immunization) * By fax at [ 613-580-9660 ](tel:613-580-9660) * By phone at [ 613-580-6744 ](tel:613-580-6744) or TTY: [ 613-580-9656 ](tel:613-580-9656) * Through the ImmunizeCA App: [ appottawa.immunize.ca ](http://appottawa.immunize.ca/) * By Mail: Immunization Program, 100 Constellation Drive,7 th floor West, Mail Code 26-44, Ottawa, ON, K2G 6J8